Monday, 25 August 2014

Ancient Irish Law fit for Today

20th century manuscript copy
by Margaret Maher 1996



To my mind an ancient Irish Law needs to be re-introduced and accepted on a worldwide scale as there is much to be said for its’ humanitarian qualities.

The Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adomnáin), also known as the Lex Innocentium (Law of Innocents) was promulgated amongst a gathering of Irish, the Dál Riatan, at the Synod of Birr in 697. It is named after its initiator, Adomnáin of Iona, ninth Abbot of Iona after St. Columba.

This set of laws were designed, among other things, to guarantee the safety and immunity of various types of non-combatants in warfare. 
They provided sanctions against the killing of children, clerics, clerical students and peasants on clerical lands; against rape, against impugning the chastity of a women, prohibited women from having to take part in warfare, and more besides.  Adomnáin's initiative appears to be one of the first systematic attempts to lessen the savagery of warfare.

All through my life (I was born during WW2) the senseless murder of women and children has taken place around the world. Many of these atrocities have been under the umbrella of one religion or other, as if there was some sort of virtue to be gained. There is no justification in the killing of people whether it is under the mantle of that termed judicial or not. 
The taking of another life is still murder. To specifically target women and children who are non-combatants only shows up the callousness of the perpetrator.


In light of the atrocities being committed as I type, perhaps it is time for all nations to turn to the wisdom of Adomnáin.

19 comments:

  1. I had never heard of the Law of Adomnáin until now and sadly very apt for the world we live in,
    especially as schools and hospitals now seem to be routine targets.

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    1. Thank you Jane. There is much to be learnt from reading old manuscripts!

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  2. Wouldn`t it be lovely to think that all countries would honour the principles of such a law. However ,methinks we shall not live to see it. There are too many nations who only see the killing of women and children as just another tactic in their arsenals of brutality to be used to break their enemy. Pity they can`t all see the common enemy of greed. Greed for power. Greed for goods. Greed to be the one to rule.

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    1. Thank you Tony, appreciate what you say and you are correct however, what we must not do is to be compliant with the ruffians of this world. Law of Adomnáin
      is as valid today as on the day that was written and therefore we lose nothing by promulgating it amongst the nations.

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  3. As I write I hear that yet another 'cease fire' - this one 'open ended' has been called in Gaza. As you say - innocent women and children - why is it always the same. I despair.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Weaver.
      I know where you are coming from however this particular blog post is not just about Gaza, this is about every conflict all over the world. Where women and children suffer the brutalities of war.

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  4. String them up by their balls

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  5. I'm not sure about the cleric/clerical land, though. Your thoughts?

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    1. The above is copied from the original document. I thought it best not to tamper with what Adomnáin had written.

      In regards to the clerics and clerical students they were by no means warriors and even today the military chaplains do not bear arms, so they are actually non-combatants. As for clerical lands I can only presume that those areas provided a place of sanctuary ?

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    2. Oh I see what you mean. I was thinking about all the 'clerics' today who are promoting war.

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  6. Most of us live such a wonderful life here in the UK { although I am not niave enough to know that there is suffering here } I just cannot imagine what it is like for some, including those women and children that are persecuted in many countries. It has been going on for centuries and, I cannot see it stopping anytime soon. It would be wonderful if everyone would adhere to such a law but, I can't see it happening anytime soon, more's the pity.
    …… and, many thanks for your comment today Heron. XXXX

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  7. Thank you for your comment Jacqueline which I greatly appreciate and comprehend. My point is that it is better to give an airing to the Law of Adomnáin, than having it sitting on the academic bookshelves gathering dust. At least now there are people around the world who now know and perhaps those who are activists can bring it into being. I live in hope.

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    1. You are so right and it was good to give it an airing ….. may hope spring eternal. XXXX

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  8. I often think the more we move forward the more savage we become. As greed, strength, lies and domination seem to be rewarded more, combined with intelligence, money and high speed communication we seem capable of so much more and stop at nothing. We are not learning from the terrible things we do.

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    1. Thank you Suzie. Unfortunately you are absolutely correct.

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  9. This law should definitely be introduced to the world. I cannot understand anyone who thinks that the killing or persecution of innocents is justifiable in any way. I get so upset when I see the children that are caught up in the various conflicts, their biggest worry should be learning their school lessons, not living in fear.

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    1. Thank you Fran.
      It surprises me often on how incredibly ignorant people become politicians and fail to understand the basic rights of the defenceless.

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